Unlike my previous Blogariddims contribution there was a plan behind this mix. But as I started putting it together I also decided on a different strategy for mixing too. On Voices from Afar the idea was very definitely to keep layering things, filling up the sound space as much as possible; I might have up to 5 tracks running at once. That was fine, but I was always a bit uncomfortable with the fact that I seemed reluctant to let any of the music – all of which I loved – speak for itself, without the friendly support of massive overdubs. Why not let the music do more of the work on its own?
So if you know Voices from Afar, you’ll find this one a lot more sparse. There’s quite a lot of silence between notes left in here, a wider, more variable dynamic range, and the result is something much darker than before, much slower moving, but a bit more faithful to my sources.
You can get the mix directly here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogariddims/
Or sign up for the podcast here: http://www.weareie.com/audio/blogariddims/Blogariddims.xml (see Droid’s helpful guide to podcasts for how to this).
(00:00) Ki (from Kwaidan): Toru Takemitsu
(00:03) The Wire III: Music on a Long Thin Wire: Alvin Lucier
(01:17) Piano Sonata no.3, Formant 2 – Trope – Glose: Pierre Boulez
(03:04) Anaklasis: Krzysztof Penderecki
Listening to Kwaidan on a Tokyo-bound train last December was where this mix started. There are strange links between Japanese traditional music and the European avant-garde, and I began sketching out a preliminary tracklist for a mix that would draw out some of these connections. Ultimately the most important connection is a particular sense of time: as the modern musical movement abandoned traditional notions of harmony, melody and rhythm, so the experience of time as something non-linear, cyclical and complex drew closer to some Asian concepts. Composers intermittently made such connections explicit through the 20th century by drawing heavily on Japanese and other oriental inspirations (Messiaen, Cage), but their discoveries had ramifications for the music of others who were not so heavily engaged with Eastern philosophies. The multi-faceted patterns of Boulez’s Third Piano Sonata are one example; the almost complete abandonment of pitch, harmony and rhythm for a purely sonic organisation that exists purely in the moment as exhibited by Penderecki’s sonoristic music is another.
(07:52) Le réveil des oiseaux: Olivier Messiaen
(07:55) Genesis: Ros Bandt
(10:00) Three Strange Angels: Richard Baker
(10:59) Cogito/Trompe L’Oeil: Iancu Dumitrescu
(15:24) A Wasp on Her Abdomen: Chas Smith
(18:16) Movement Within: Glenn Branca
Messiaen is the key link between Eastern traditional music and European postwar modernism; the use of birdsong in his music is connected, via theological subways, to this, but the opening piano solo from Réveil is here ‘cos it sounds good as much as anything.
This section becomes progressively heavier, from Ros Bandt’s death zither to Glenn Branca’s microtonal doomcore. Do yourself a favour and dig out and listen to the Dumitrescu in full. You’ll love it.
(21:38) Automne à Varsovie: György Ligeti
(23:27) Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune: Claude Debussy
(24:43) Symphonies Of Wind Instruments: Igor Stravinsky
(26:08) Sonata 6: Sonatas and Interludes For Prepared Piano: John Cage
(27:01) 6 Little Piano Pieces, No.6, Sehr langsam: Arnold Schoenberg
(28:24) Liturgie de cristal, Quatour pour la fin du temps: Olivier Messiaen
A bit of history in the middle of the mix, throwing up some of the key players in the out of time continuum. Debussy’s Prélude is commonly credited with ending Western classical music’s obsession with linear, progressive time and thus earmarks the beginning of modern music. Schoenberg’s atonality did its bit, as did Stravinsky’s jump cuts and additive rhythms, and by the time Cage is poking rubbers and nails in between his piano strings none of the old rules apply. Time could no longer function as it once did.
Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, Europe was in thrall to total serialism, a short-lived, notorious movement which has subsequently been blamed for everything. Messiaen was its accidental midwife in 1949 with a set of rhythmic studies for piano; Stockhausen responded with Kreuzspiel, one of the first total serial pieces, and a work that would have a massive impact on the international avant garde. The funny thing is, Kreuzspiel really grooves and it’s no leap at all from here to New York minimalism.
Listening to this bit scares the hell out of me. The Normandeau (from this CD) is fantastic, but it’s the stuff of nightmares, and the other tracks hardly help…
The mood eases off a bit, with this 6-minute chunk from Murail’s Désintégrations, a piece that rocks really freakin’ hard. I like this bit though for the elegaic wind melodies halfway through, which is why it gets the nod rather than the more appropriately titled Time and Again from the same disc.
Just a lovely thing to end on, a kind of smoothed-out, fluffy version of the opening bells and drones that Takemitsu and Lucier started things off with, and that in some way have been around for the last hour.